The Bellingham Police Department released a composite sketch Friday of the man they believe is responsible for the recent incidents of voyeurism near Western Washington University.
Police Detective Sue Howell received information from a witness who was in the 800 block of North Garden Street on Halloween – that witness told police the behavior of the person described in the sketch was not normal, according to a news release. The witness is familiar with the neighborhood and its residents, police said.
The physical descriptions of the man in the composite sketch match that of the suspect in the voyeurism cases, according to the news release.
Bellingham Police Lt. Danette Beckley said there was new information the police became aware of that allowed the release of the sketch.
Beckley, however, said she couldn’t comment further as it’s “crucial to the case.”
Bellingham Police have investigated at least 20 or more complaints of voyeurism or indecent exposure in the last few months. Most of the events, including the most recent ones from last Friday and this Monday, have occurred around Western. There were two other occurrences last week, as well as other numerous incidents near Western, the Columbia, York and Sehome neighborhoods, and the cases from early 2017.
Some of the cases show similarities, such as the suspect exposing himself or masturbating in a public place. In other instances, the suspect attracted the attention of people inside a home and exposed himself near a door or window.
In all cases, the suspect was a white man in his 20s. He’s always gone before police arrive.
Beckley said detectives are exploring the connections between the incidents, and noted that while there are similarities, there could be more than one person committing the crimes.
Police are increasing patrols, particularly around the residence halls, WWU spokesman Paul Cocke said.
Numerous safety tips and websites were sent in an email alert to students, faculty, staff and other community members Monday, including information for Western’s Counseling Center and sexual assault support services.
Anyone who has information can call Western Washington University Police at 3911 or 911, anonymously at 360-650-7233. University public safety assistants, or “Greencoats,” are available to escort students or others on campus during evening hours by calling 360-650-3555.
Tips can also be sent to Bellingham Police Detective Sue Howell at 360-778-8682, anonymously at 360-778-8611, or online at cob.org/tips.
LIST OF THE MOST RECENT LEWD INCIDENTS:
▪ Oct. 29: A man was hiding in a shower in a women’s bathroom in a residence hall on Western Washington University’s campus. Two women saw him.
▪ Oct. 27: A man tried to enter a residence hall on Western Washington University’s campus, but couldn’t, so he exposed himself to a woman nearby.
▪ Oct. 25: A man was masturbating outside the basement window of a home in the 1000 block of North Garden Street.
▪ Oct. 24: A man was seen masturbating in Laurel Park in the Sehome neighborhood.
▪ Oct. 14: A man was masturbating on the back porch of a home in the 1200 block of North Garden Street.
▪ Oct. 13: A man wearing a tiger mask and dark clothing was seen masturbating outside the window of a home in the 300 block of Gladstone Street. The man knocked on the window a couple times to make sure the resident could see what he was doing.
▪ Sept. 26: A neighbor reported a male was using a phone to record or photograph his neighbor from outside the bathroom window of a home in the 2600 block of Peabody Street.
▪ Early September: Five voyeurism incidents occurred near Western, in the 800-1000 blocks of East Maple, Billy Frank Jr. and High streets, as well as an occurrence in the 1300 block of Franklin Street. Most of the incidents took place between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.
▪ Early 2017: Five cases of voyeurism within a week happened near Western, mostly in the York and Sehome neighborhoods. A male was reported to have shined a flashlight or phone into women’s windows.